Golf

Owensboro’s Roberts holds off two Lexington golfers to win State Am

Andy Roberts of Owensboro won the State Amateur tournament on Thursday.
Andy Roberts of Owensboro won the State Amateur tournament on Thursday. jsullivan@herald-leader.com

Owensboro native Andy Roberts fired a 1-under-par 69 in Thursday’s final round to hold off two Lexington golfers and win the 2016 Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Marathon Kentucky Amateur Championship at Bellefonte Country Club.

This was Roberts’ 13th run at the state amateur title and his first victory. The 2010 Kentucky Open winner and former Brescia College golfer took a one-shot lead into the finale after posting scores of 65 and 67 in the first two rounds. He finished the tournament at 9 under par, two strokes ahead of Joseph Deraney and Denver Haddix Jr., both of Lexington.

“I’m just really happy it’s over,” said Roberts in the clubhouse after parring the 18th hole to seal the win. “There was a lot of pressure. You get about four holes to go and you’re just trying to get to the clubhouse. I really wanted to win this one and I’m getting old and these kids aren’t.

“You don’t have many opportunities, so when you end up giving yourself a chance you have to take advantage of it.”

I’m just really happy it’s over. There was a lot of pressure. You get about four holes to go and you’re just trying to get to the clubhouse. I really wanted to win this one and I’m getting old and these kids aren’t.

Andy Roberts

Ashland native Evan Cox, who will play for the University of Kentucky as a junior after spending two years at Virginia Wesleyan, finished eighth at 2 under par.

Bellefonte is considered a short course, and Roberts said that allowed him to play conservatively and maintain a lead over many of the younger players in the field who have better long games.

“There are a lot of holes where you don’t use a driver on this course and that let me focus on the short game,” he said. “I kept the ball in play and never had any really crazy shots where I was in trouble off the tee. It kind of allowed me to play boring golf and that was good, because if it’s too exciting out there you can get in trouble.”

Deraney began the day one stroke behind Roberts and joined him in the final group. He praised Roberts’ poise and his ability to avoid making a big mistake.

“Me and Andy were kind of having our own little battle out there for a while, but he was just really solid all day,” he said. “I didn’t make any of those 10- or 15-footers you kind of need to win, so because of that I wasn’t really able to put much pressure on him.”

Roberts had three birdies and two bogeys in the final round. After opening a three-shot lead down the stretch on the back nine, he put his second shot on the 17th hole into a bunker to the left of the green. He two-putted for a bogey, giving Deraney and Haddix a small opening heading into the final hole.

But a long drive in the middle of the fairway and an iron-shot to within 5 feet of the cup set Roberts up for a par.

“At 18, when I hit the second shot I felt pretty good, but until then you try not to let yourself look ahead because that’s when bad things happen,” Roberts said. “That’s when I took a sigh of relief and knew it was over … I’m just so happy to finally bring this one home.”

Josh Sullivan: 859-231-3225, @sullyjosh

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